Nate Campbell lived a childhood straight out of a Charles Dickens book. He was put in foster care at age seven and lived in 15 different homes and attended the same number of schools. He was 24 and working as a box cutter when a co-worker saw him shadowboxing during a break and suggested he try boxing. Campbell kept working as a box cutter during all three years of his amateur career, and didn't turn pro until a month before his 28th birthday. To support himself and his wife and kid—who lived with his mother-in-law—Campbell worked installing stereo systems and slept on the front seat of his car. When he was lucky enough to get a job installing a system in a hotel, he was able to shower. In a match with Joel Casamayor in 2003, Campbell was 23-0 but still installing stereo systems. His story is inspiring, a textbook in how to survive and live out your dream. He never got bitter, and today talks of the beauty of life and living in the moment. Last year he beat three-belt holder Juan Diaz to finally win a world championship. He lost those belts on the scales Feb. 14 when he failed to make the 135-pound lightweight limit. He was unhappy about losing the belts, but worse things have happened to him. He is moving on. The determined fighter, now 36, won that fight with Ali Funeka, and is moving up to junior welterweight where he wants to challenge Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton.
Your victory over Ali Funeka had to be a bittersweet one, since you lost your championship belts by failing to make weight. What were you feeling after your victory was announced?
I was happy with the victory, that's all I cared about. I had to win to save my career; that was more important than the belts.
Did your efforts to lose the excess weight have any effect on you in the fight?
Yes it did. My body was no longer the same. It's gotten bigger. If you looked at Funeka, who was much taller, it was me who had the bigger, wider body. Some people say I didn't try to make weight. But for six hours before the weigh in I sat in a sauna, and shadowboxed in that sauna trying to make the weight.
You announced after the fight you're moving up to junior welterweight. Who at 140 pounds would you like to fight?
I want to fight the winner of the Pacquiao-Hatton fight. I want to fight all the guys at 140. I'm going to make a lot of noise and be in their faces. I feel confident I can become the top fighter in that division.
How do you think you'd do in the ring with Manny Pacquiao?
I would do strange things to him. I could outbox him and out-punch him. It would be a great fight.
You've come very far in life. As a child, you lived in 15 different foster homes and went to 15 different schools. What was that like for you, and how did it mold you into the person you are today?
I survived that by grit, and that has become part of my makeup. I moved quite often. I never really got used to living in one place. I never got into a comfort zone and I think that helped me as a boxer. I never in my life look for comfort. I live in the moment and know that no matter what happens; it is what it is. Life is beautiful and it is meant to be lived. Most foster kids suffer from separation anxiety. Losing my titles was like that for me.